The Joe Biden Policy Platform

Joe Biden put up an issues page on his campaign website late last month. I have been publicly wondering when, if ever, we would get some kind of formal policy platform from Biden, and so I am happy to see that now there is one. Unfortunately, Biden’s list of issues does not really contain much actual policy content.

The first list item is “Protecting and Strengthening Our Democracy” and contains the following vague promise:

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are committed to strengthening our democracy and protecting our freedoms, and we can count on them to stand up to the extremists who undermine our Constitution to increase their own power. Joe and Kamala believe in a government of the people, by the people, and for the people—that is what they work for every single day.

The second list item is “Growing the Middle Class” and, after recounting some legislation passed during the Biden administration, simply promises that “they are running to finish the job and ensure that every American gets a fair shot at the American Dream.”

The third list item is “Fighting to Lower Costs for Working Families” and promises that “they will lower drug costs for all Americans, make renting and buying a home more affordable, and give tax cuts to middle-class families” and “continue their fight to crack down on price gouging that pads the profits of big corporations at your expense.” This is the first list item that does at least gesture towards certain policies, though it does not say what exactly they are. With the possible exception of the cracking down on price gouging, these are all policy goals, not policies.

The fourth list item is “Building a Fairer Tax System That Works for the Middle Class” and vaguely promises to “give tax cuts to the middle class while making the ultra-wealthy and big corporations finally pay their fair share.”

The fifth list item is “Making Health Care More Accessible and Affordable” and promises to “to expand affordable care, lower prescription drug prices for all Americans, and cap the price of insulin and out-of-pocket drug costs for everyone.” As with item three, we have here some cognizable policy goals, but not policy proposals.

The final list item is “Fighting to Restore Reproductive Freedom” and promises that “Joe and Kamala are fighting to restore the protections of Roe.” Generously, we could read this as the Biden administration saying they want to reenact the Roe regime through federal statute, making this the only full-blown policy proposal on the list.

As a policy guy, obviously I’d love to see more policy. But it’s quite possible that policy is simply overrated in elections. Trump won in 2016 without much of a policy agenda and so perhaps it doesn’t really matter all that much. In the case of Biden, however, I think it may be wise to start dropping actual policy proposals if for no other reason than to give the media something to talk about other than Biden’s apparent mental incapacity.